Obama slams Romney over US troops withdrawal plan

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Barack Obama and Romney
Washington, Sept 3: US President Barack Obama has lashed out at rival Republican candidate Mitt Romney for not having any timetable withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, while his top aide said there would be American troops inside the war-torn country even after 2014.

"We are bringing our troops home from Afghanistan. I've set a timetable. We will have them all out of there by 2014. Governor Romney doesn't have a timetable. I think he's wrong. That's what's at stake in this election," Obama said during a campaign speech in Colorado on Sunday.

Obama was referring to Romney's speech last week in Tampa which had no mention of the exit policy from Afghanistan.

"This November, you get to decide the future of the Afghanistan war. Governor Romney had nothing to say about Afghanistan last week. Yes, he hasn't offered a plan for the 33,000 troops who will have come home from this war by the end of this month," Obama said.

Vice President Joe Biden was also highly critical of Romney on his Afghan policy.

"Romney thought the decision that the President of the United States - we have 50 allies working with us, NATO and other countries in Afghanistan. The president organised them, all 50 of them said it's time to set a date to hand over responsibility to the Afghans and bring our 90,000 troops home. And what did Romney say? He said that was a mistake," Biden said in a campaign speech in Wisconsin.

Later, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that the President's policy is a full transition to Afghan security lead by 2014. "We have been abundantly clear about the stages of the implementation of that policy. And as in Iraq, that means that while not all US troops will have withdrawn necessarily by then, the Afghan Security Forces will be in full security transition - I mean, will be in full security lead, and US forces will continue to be drawn down," Carney said.

Responding to questions, Carney said this is a NATO-endorsed strategy that foresees full transition to Afghan security lead in Afghanistan by 2014.

"That is a NATO policy that has been put in place for quite some time now. And part of that is drawing down our forces, which, as you know, is happening as we speak," he said. Carney, however, added Obama never said that all the troops would be out.

"What we've said, as we did in Iraq, there were sort of milestones where troops began to come home, more and more authorities transferred over to Iraqi security forces," he said.

"The US forces that remained as that process took place moved out of the cities and on to bases. And then the full transfer took place and combat mission ended, after which remaining US forces eventually came home and the last US soldier left, with the exception obviously of those who are at the embassy," Carney said.

The US is set to hand over responsibility for security to local Afghans by 2014 and efforts are underway to draw down US forces, but the president has not specified a date for the withdrawal of all American troops from the country.


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